Nose: Blackberry! Malty, slightly floral, slightly sour.
Mouth: Light, effervescent, bubbly, fizzy. A bit creamy. Malty, sour and bitter. No real hops presentation but strong blackberry prescence.
OK, what the hell is my problem? I’m not a bit fruit beer person but here I am with my second fruit beer review in as many months.
I’m not a hypocrite.
This is more of a wheat beer than a fruit beer. Unlike most wheat beer though, it’s not unfiltered and murky but clear, light and crisp. Probably due to the 2-row pilsner malt that is used. But Long Trail has tried to make this in the spirit of the lambics and used a hearty dose of wheat to give this brew an earthy malt to it. There is very little hops presentation and I honestly don’t think they use hops at all. The Blackberry that is added is plenty sour, bitter and tart. Any extra hops would be overkill.
Like wheat beers though, this has a very bread-like taste. However, because it’s so light and fizzy, it reminds me of a pastry or pie crust more than just a bread. Surprisingly though, for a wheat beer, there is not a huge wheat prescence. It’s there because it adds extra creaminess to what is otherwise a pilsner. The earthy, somewhat tangy flavor of wheat isn’t there like it is in other wheat beers. It’s there but not very forward at all. I actually have a hard time picking it out from the blackberry.
What you end up with is a wheat pilsner lambic flavored with blackberries. I know, odd. You know what though? It works. This is an easy drinking beer that is great at any time. The lighter the fare that you combine this with, the better. Salads and savory appetizers are probably best. I wouldn’t necessarily pair this with a meal. However, it’s hearty and sweet enough to be a dessert all by itself!
Long Trail is an interesting brewer. They take themselves seriously but they seem to have fun with what they are doing. One just has to look at the names of the brews they are offering to see that. They are out of Vermont and they are native “Vermontsters” (GRRRR!!) so that attitude is about par for the course. I don’t know if you have ever been to Vermont but it’s an interesting place and very diverse for being squeezed between very liberal New York and ultra conservative New Hampshire. You get a mix of people who are liberal in views but traditional in values. Everything there has this conflict in it. Long Trail reflects that in their offerings. Blackbeary Wheat is an example of that “Vermont Dichotomy” of sorts. It’s definitively a pilsner and an American Hefeweizen at the same time. Throw in a smattering of “not so serious” blackberries and you get Blackbeary Wheat.
Honestly, the best way to enjoy this beer is during a late summer evening, on the back porch. Especially after a hard day’s work. Not just any evening though. It’s got to be one of those evenings where the balmy, gusty breezes bring a hint of that crisp, cool air that tells you autumn is on it’s way. You know, that unmistakable scent of cool northern air. Almost like a boreal pine forest is whispering in your ear and telling you that the leaves are changing and harvest time is coming. That’s pretty much every evening in Vermont from late August until autumn hits and the weather snaps. Makes me kinda wish I was there now. Considering it’s autumn here already and it’s been a chilly 50 degrees with a moderate rain all day.
But hey, if I can’t make it to Vermont, at least I can have a seat in NJ with a glass of Vermont in my hand! Just stick your nose in the glass and take a whiff! It’s as close to smelling the blackberry brambles cooling down after basking in the sun all day as you can get. Only thing better is sitting at my sister’s house in Vermont and quietly waiting for the deer to come and nibble on the blackberries that line her back yard.